“And he said unto Jesus, Lord,
remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him,
Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:42, 43.
As Jesus hung on the cross, dying
for the sin of the world, two criminals hung on either side of Him. Condemned
for their crimes, they too would die that day. But one of them ultimately
recognized who Jesus was. It was that criminal who called Him “Lord”. The Greek
word for Lord Is “Kyrios” which is a title given to God, the Messiah. And with
his own mouth, one of these thieves professed that Jesus is God.
In the above verse the word
for kingdom comes from the Greek word “basileia”
It is primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion,
and it is used especially of the Kingdomof God and of Christ. The thief addressed
Jesus by using the word “basileia”
which pointed to Jesus’ right or authority to rule over a kingdom. It refers to
the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah.
this thief through one little statement spoken from the most terrible place
possible – hanging on his cross –
was given permission by God Himself to enter paradise that very day with the
King of Kings. Most Bible scholars agree that,for
the most part,criminals
who earned the “privilege” of dyingthat horrible death, by crucifixion, were suspendedthere
for days before finally dying. Jesus told that believing thief that that very
day he would be with the Lord in paradise. How could Jesus have known that He
and this thief would die that very day? Jesus is fully
God, and as such He knows all things. He knew He would die that very day because
He arranged all the events associated with His crucifixion. He also knew that
one of the men hanging next to Him would believe and be saved that day, and that
this man would also die in a matter of hours.
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in
paradise.” Luke 23:43.
Some believe that Jesus was speaking figuratively; not actually
meaning the thief would be with Him that very day but that he would be joining
Jesus in Heaven at some point in time. Those who believe in soul sleep interpret
the “to day” that Jesus spoke of as being in this period of time, the Christian
rendering of the phrase “to day” means just that. The Greek word is “sēmeron”,and
it means this very day, or what has happened today. The Greek word for “I say”
in this instance is rendered as a command. Clearly Jesus pronounced a command
that the thief would be with Him that very day in Paradise.
We know from the scriptures that Jesus, before His resurrection,went
to where the believers of the past were waiting and “... led
Ephesians 4:8. Heremoved
everyone who was in Paradise,and
took them to Heaven. This putsthe
kibosh on soul sleep; there are other verses that also point to the whole idea
of soul sleep as being unbiblical. Such as, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8;
hung on that cross He was mocked and reviled by the crowd gathered at the cross,
as well as the two criminals who were being crucified with Him.
“The thieves also, which were crucified with
him, cast the same in his teeth.”
Matthew 27:44. But something changed the mind of one of those
thieves, and in his heart he became a believer. It’s amazing just how quickly
that change took place. “But the other
answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the
same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our
deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
Luke 23:40-41. That thief knew he and
his companion deserved the punishment they were receiving. Interestingly, one
criminal confessed with his mouth and believed in his heart that Jesus was Lord,
which is exactly what Paul tells us in the Book of Romans how one is saved.For
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession
is made unto salvation.”
The man’s partial statement
“Lord, remember me” was a profession
of faith and it was the catalyst that moved him from being condemned to being
saved. Yet it still remains that this saved sinner was being punished for the
crime he committed against society. Two men, found equally guilty by the ruler
in that land,were
separated that day by the cross of Christ, separated by the One who was found
guiltless yet condemned by that very same Roman ruler. Today they remain
eternally separated by a simple faith which leads to the cross and a lack of
faith that moves people to reject their Messiah.
Clearly we can see this once lost and condemned
man becoming transformed before our very eyes by going through a change of heart
and a transformation of his mind right there on that cross. This same change can
happen to anyone today. We see many who have hardened their hearts against God
and His Christ these days and we think to ourselves “How
can these lost people who seem to be so far removed from God ever come to an
understanding of who God is? How can they ever come to a saving relationship
with Jesus Christ? Wouldn’t we be wasting our time trying to confront them with
the truth of the Gospel?” Have you ever heard that old adage, “There but for the
grace of God go I”? It’s only hopeless when that lost person dies in unbelief.
Two men, nailed to their own personal cross both
suffering in pain and agony right along with Jesus. In this moment in time their
eternity was in the balance since both would soon expire and be transported to
the destination of their choice.
There they were hanging and dying right next to the very Creator of the
universe. Yet only one would recognize Jesus and confess before the world just
who Jesus was. If these two criminals were Jews then
they had just been put to death without being able to atone for their sin
against God through the usual means, the Jewish Law of sacrifice. That
opportunity was lost forever. One saw the Hope we all have in Christ and the
other remained in his blindness.
Two very similar criminals made completely
opposite choices, those two men had completely different mind sets. Both men had
the same opportunity to avoid Hell that day. One ultimately made the correct
choice. That’s a fact that should provide ample reason for believers today to
pause and reconsider their drive to spread the Gospel. Those two men were
hanging awaiting deaths door to slam shut, one became a believer before it was
too late. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to spread the Gospel message to
the lost as much as possible before it’s too late.
Everyone alive today is sitting at deaths door.
Our lives could be snuffed out in a simple heart beat. Since man can’t see the
future he can’t see his last moment on earth before it appears. There comes a
point in time when all the good intentions for spreading the Gospel fall short
if the believer lacks commitment.
Most people today believe they have plenty of time
to make a decision for Christ, never really coming to the understanding that
delaying that decision for Christ automatically condemns them to Hell. If they
die in that lost state of mind they are condemned for eternity. The message of
the cross is powerful and can and will bear much fruit if it is spread by Jesus’
followers as He commanded.
Remember Jesus’ words in the parable of the sower?
The last ground mentioned by Jesus was good ground. “But
other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some
sixtyfold, some thirtyfold”
Matthew 13:8. We all like to think that we are the good ground spoken
of by Jesus in this parable, but are we living up to what Jesus meant by bearing
much fruit even thirtyfold?
I know, by some of the emails I’ve received in the
past that there are believers out there whorefuse
to witness to the lost,erroneously
assuming there’s nothing further to be accomplished. Their attitude in many
cases is that the hearts of the rest of humanity are left hard and cold, and are
completely unreachable for Christ. Obviously there are some who believe the Holy
Spirit has been removed from planet earth. After all it’s
the Holy Spirit who convicts a person and leads them to Jesus. If God’s Holy
Spirit is not here to do His job what can believers expect to accomplish?
In the beginning of this amazing, wonderful
movement called Christianity,God
placed on man an awesome responsibility, and that was to spread the Gospel to
all creatures. “And he said unto them, Go ye
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
That responsibility hasn’t changed in the last two thousand years.
We must continue to, as Paul says, fight the good fight; we must remain active
in our Father’s business, and be fully aware that the forces of evil will
continue to buffet us at every turn.
Preaching the Gospel of Christ may seem difficult
useless. The message of the cross,in
to be falling on deaf ears. Remember my brethren we are only seed planters and
after planting we move on. We aren’t told in the scriptures to hang around
watching that seed grow. We may not witness the fruit produced by that seed. But
God promises it will produce fruit, some an
hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
My brethren, another of Satan’s deceptions is to
convince the Church to become complacent even apathetic. Along with all the
other lies and deceptions infiltrating our churches today,one
of the most far reaching is that the Holy Spirit has
been removed. The Bible, the inerrant word of God, contains
the very scriptures that Jesus quoted while here on earth, and they are
non-negotiable. Nothing changes in God’s word. People change, yes, and become
more “enlightened” in areas of worldly knowledge and through this kind of
knowledge they are inclined to move away from any belief in God and His word. We
don’t need to re-create or re-design the Gospel of Christ. It’s worked for
almost two thousand years now and it will continue to be a beacon of light until
Jesus returns. Nowhere in the scriptures are we told to avoid the lost and
Jesus, being fully God, died on that cross, a most
excruciating form of torture, and He did so to take away the sin of the entire
world. He followed His Father’s instructions to the letter. Shouldn’t we, who
are called by His name, continue following His commandments to the letter? At
any rate it’s a command from God, not, as many would like to believe, a request.
God bless you all,
All scripture is from the KJV